Carroll University in Waukesha works to graduate more nurses, combat projected nursing shortage

WAUKESHA --  A “help wanted” sign could soon hang over the nursing industry — that’s if the needed number of registered nurses don’t enter the field and replace the hundreds of thousands of nurses expected to retire within the next few years. 

However, Carroll University is graduating 77 nursing students this weekend — and the university says it's aggressively enrolling and trying to avoid a nursing shortage. That's why next year the number of graduates is expected to increase to 95. 

“[The simulation program here] makes us all feel very well prepared," Molly Wiedenhoeft said. 

"Some of them are very nerve-wracking and we have to prep for them," she explained. 

Molly Wiedenhoft is finishing her third year as a nursing student. She says she’s wanted to be a nurse ever since she was a young girl. 

“My grandma was also a nurse," Wiedenhoft said. 

"I got to take care of her when she was in her last days and same with my grandpa and I just [love] helping people and making sure that I can be there for them," she continued. 

Fortunately for Wiedenhoft, nurses are in high demand.

“We need not only a replacement for those nurses who are expected to retire, but also to increase the number of nurses to care for more patients," Jamie Hansen, interim chair of the Carroll University nursing program said. 

In fact, of the more than three million employed registered nurses in the U.S., about 500,000 are expected to retire by 2022 —that’s about 15% of the current workforce, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the need for 1.1 million new nurses to replace retirees and avoid a nursing shortage —which is why faculty at Carroll University contend they’re working so hard to prepare students for a career in nursing. 

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